Japan? America? Europe? Who's working the hardest?

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Japan? America? Europe? Who's working the hardest?

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There’s been a very interesting little “discussion” going around what we used to call the blogosphere.

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington spent the previous week at LeWeb, in Paris, where in response to some questions, he said that Europeans love life too much to generate the biggest technology success stories. They have too many 2-hour lunches and too few late-night coding sessions. LeWeb’s organizer Loic Le Meur responded by asking – on his blog – whether Arrington should be invited back.

Meanwhile, Zoho Office blogger Sridhar reflects that Japanese work even harder … often 12 or more hours daily.

This issue is bulls-eye topical for me, as I’ve been working 12 to 14 hour days lately in my new job.

But … let’s be honest.

There can be times when you go way overboard and work mega-hours to pass critical checkpoints. But 99% of people will not be long-term successful (or happy) being out of balance all the time. The old saw about no-one wishing on their deathbed that they’d spent more time at the office is true. And realistically, almost no-one is actually effective spending that many hours for very many days.

As I mentioned on the Zoho Office blog …

I’ve also read first-hand accounts from ex-pat workers in Japan who said that a LOT of the office time was actually just face time … there was not a lot more work actually getting done. But people couldn’t leave, because that would have been see as slacking. So they stayed at their desks, doing a little online shopping, doing a little of this and a little of that.

Here’s the deal: I’d much rather work smart than work hard. That is where you’re actually going to make the major difference – where you’re going to leap-frog the competition.

But to succeed, often you have to do both.


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